European Parliament resolution on Temelin
By Daniela Lazarova.
The controversial Temelin nuclear power plant is back in the headlines again. On Wednesday the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the Czech government to consider abandoning the 3 billion dollar plant because of growing safety concerns. The resolution calls for an international forum to evaluate the price tag of closing the plant and suggests that it may be possible to hold a donor's conference to meet the costs.
Anti-nuclear activists have welcomed the document as another small victory on the road to a nuclear free Europe but the Czech government sees it as merely the latest in a long line of political statements on Temelin. Czech government spokesman Libor Roucek:
"It is a very strong statement by a body that has no jurisdiction on the territory of the Czech Republic and also the European Parliament is saying something to an applicant country which it wouldn't say to a member country. The Czech government will ignore this call. The energy policy is a matter for the Czech government to decide."
Does that mean that the Czech government does not find this resolution binding in any way? That's correct this resolution is not binding. Neither for the Czech government not for the EU Commission.
"The European Parliament was obviously acting under Austrian and German pressure, and the Czech Republic - whether or not it is an EU member - will have to address the safety concerns of these two neighbour states."
Do you think it is doing enough in this respect?
"Yes, the European Parliament was acting under pressure from the Austrian and German Green Party deputies. Of course the Czech government takes safety and environmental concerns very seriously. That's the reason why we talk to our neigbours about it. We talk to the Germans and especially the Austrians . There is the so called Melk process which was initiated by the prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Austria and of course we are willing to discuss all the issues brought up, all the safety issues, all the environmental issues. And this process continues, of course...."
You said that the Czech Republic was going to ignore the EP resolution. Will this complicate accession talks with the EU?
"It was clearly stated by EP deputies that this resolution shouldn't complicate the accession talks at all. The accession talks, including the energy chapter, are not being negotiated by the EP but by the European Commission and recommendations made by the EP are not binding for the EC. So this will not complicate accession talks."
The European Parliament resolution has likewise met with a negative response from the majority of Czech Parliament deputies. The Speaker of the Lower House Vaclav Klaus said the resolution did not contain any reasonable, concrete arguments pertaining to why the Czech Republic should consider mothballing the plant.
An official statement issued by the Czech foreign ministry says that "the resolution has not contributed anything new to the ongoing debate on nuclear safety".
In short, the EP resolution has met with a very negative response in the Czech Republic. That's no great surprise, but let's take a look at what weight the European Union attaches to the European Parliament resolution. Ralf Dreyer of the EU delegation here in Prague had this to say:
"Temelin is not an EU problem. Temelin is a bilateral problem between Austria and the Czech Republic. The points of view expressed in the EP resolution are of course politically very important and I think the two parties would be well advised to have a closer look into the resolution and to see what the EP is aiming at in this connection. There is the Melk process that was started a while ago and that has to be brought to an end and in this connection all the security concerns of citizens have and will be taken into account. I am very confident that this process can be brought to an end in a way that will satisfy the European Parliament as well."